Disabled athlete activism: using an emancipatory theological approach to promote the use of disabled athletes in disability activism in the UK

Stuart Braye, Tom Gibbons

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

In this essay, the practical theological perspectives of Paulo Freire (1993) and Gustavo Gutiérrez (2001) are utilized alongside Michael Oliver’s (1983) social model of disability to highlight and seek to improve the currently low involvement of disabled athletes in disability activism in the UK. Whilst Oliver’s social model is, arguably, the most widely utilized emancipatory framework within both disability studies and Paralympic studies, Freire’s work on the emancipation of oppressed groups and Gutiérrez’s theology of liberation have not previously been applied to the topic of disabled athlete activism. Freire (1944-1986) was a Brazilian educator who first published The Pedagogy of the Oppressed in 1968. Whilst Freire’s (1993) work focused on the education of illiterate adults in the Third World, we argue that his educational philosophy ¬¬can readily be applied to other oppressed groups, such as disabled people. Gutiérrez (born 1928) is a Peruvian philosopher, Roman Catholic theologian, and Dominican priest who first published A Theology of Liberation in 1971. Gutiérrez (2001) asserts that true freedom is liberation from everything that may impede it and from external forces and pressures that disempower vulnerable people. One of his arguments is that emancipation has the danger of only being considered in abstract terms rather than as real freedom. We conclude our analysis by reflecting on the merits of using an emancipatory theological approach for studying the role of disabled athletes in disability activism in the UK. We end by arguing that since the aims and objectives of both the Paralympic Movement and the Disabled People’s Movement are to enhance equality for disabled people, it would be in their shared interests to encourage disabled athletes to be involved in disability activism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAthlete Activism: Contemporary Perspectives
EditorsRory Magrath
PublisherRoutledge
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Oct 2020

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